It’s officially soup season, but we couldn’t wait that long to make this soup-er (see what I did there?) SIMPLE soup, especially when we had fresh ingredients from the garden to use!
We made this soup back in September, when I’m pretty sure the weather was still in the 80s, but as soon as my birthday (which almost always falls on or near Labor Day) is over, it’s fall to me!
I began a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free (and all junk-in-general-free) diet a couple of months ago, at the advice of my doctor. I have fibromyalgia, and she believed that changing my diet would have a huge impact on my health. After I started this lifestyle change, I also received blood test results that reflected a myriad of other health issues, including insulin resistance and high cholesterol—even more reasons to persevere in making this a true lifestyle change, not simply a temporary diet. I’m now off my fibro meds, and I’ve lost sixteen pounds (thirty of which were packed on by the meds). I won’t claim that my fibro is cured, but I feel just the same as I did on my medicines—perhaps better because I don’t have all the side effects. I am on way too many medications for being twenty-six years old, but because of this lifestyle change, a lot of the things that were causing me to need these meds are being reversed. I’m really hopeful for the first time in a month of Sundays (yes, I did just use that phrase) in regards to my health being restored, and so much of it is thanks to good ole fashioned, organic, “clean eating” (and I use parentheses because I’m not perfect at this, but I’m on the journey). It seems like hippy talk, I know, but I’m living proof that it makes a real difference!
I’ll be honest: eating well in this day and age takes a lot of work. I’ve done a lot of researching, experimenting, and spent long hours at the grocery store reading labels. Most of the food I love most in this world is packed with stuff that makes my body swell, my gut leak, and would eventually cause my heart to stop beating. I really thought I would find no joy in food for the rest of my life. Two things I’ve found: 1) my joy is not in food, ‘tis in Jesus, and the fact that I found so much joy in crappy food is kind of sad. 2) I can make and eat food that tastes good and actually nourishes my body. This recipe also proves that healthy food can be just as easy to make as the other junk.
A lot of the soups I used to make were creamy…so what do you think they had in them? That’s right, folks: cheese, cream, milk, cream-of-something canned soups, cream cheese, etc. I have yet to try a creamy soup with nondairy substitutions (I read that it’s possible), but for now I’m trying to make soups packed with veggies and fresh ingredients.
I was both pumped and bummed when I found this recipe, mostly over the cheese tortellini. There are certainly plenty of gluten-free pastas out there, but how could I swing a substitute for CHEESE TORTELLINI?! So delicious…so bad for my stomach (did I mention I also found out I have a dairy sensitivity? Of all the things in the world to not be able to eat…why, God? Wait, remember what you just said about not finding your joy in food.). I hit the frozen pasta aisle at Whole Foods (yes, packaged food…I never said I was perfect, and no, I don’t do all my shopping at Whole Foods. I love it, but let’s be real–our budget doesn’t allow it) and found a substitute to match the texture and deliciousness of tortellini—potato gnocchi!
With all my ingredients gathered from the store and the garden, ‘twas time for Tony and me to get to work.
We had never blanched tomatoes, but it was really simple! If you’re cool with canned foods and want to save time, you could use a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, instead.
When we make this soup again, it will look a lot fuller. We loved it, but we really love all the vegetables in this recipe, so we need it to be overflowing with basil, spinach, and tomatoes! I adjusted the recipe accordingly, but if you’d like a soup with a milder taste, I would follow the original recipe.
If you can eat your soup topped with some fresh shredded or shaved Parmesan, by all means, I say do it. If you’re in the nondairy boat with me, don’t worry—this is one where you won’t miss or need the cheese in order for it to have great flavor!
We enjoyed this on the couch while watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, rented from the library. We had the urge to watch all the movies again in sequence, but of course, someone never returned Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, so we had to start with Chamber of Secrets. First world problems. Don’t mind the broken blinds in the background. That’s my next project—drop cloth curtains for that window. Stay tuned.
Fresh Spinach, Tomato, and Gnocchi Soup
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
12 medium Roma tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
6 cloves garlic (more or less to taste…we like more!)
8-10 cups chicken broth (I suggest the boxed, organic, free range stuff!)
2 cups water, optional (If you go with 8 cups of chicken broth and you like a milder broth, add the water. Otherwise, use 10 cups of chicken broth and omit the water.)
1 (12 oz.) package gluten-free potato gnocchi
12 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
6 tbsp chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese for topping, optional
Heat a pot of water to a boil and fill a medium mixing bowl with ice water. Once water in pot boils, carefully drop tomatoes into water and boil until skins burst, about 3-4 minutes. If a few of them are having trouble bursting, you can remove them from the water and cut an “X” in the bottom of the tomatoes, then return to water for about another minute until skins slightly pull alway. Remove from boiling water and transfer to ice bath, cool slightly, then peel, seed and dice into bite size pieces. Set aside.
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Pour in chicken broth (and water, if using), then increase temperature to moderately high heat and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, add gnocchi, season with salt and pepper, and boil as directed on package.
Stir in tomatoes, spinach, and basil, and cook until heated through and spinach wilts. Serve warm, topped with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Adapted from Cooking Classy